This cider braised pork belly is pure heaven on a plate – the poaching step is all about making the meat as moist and succulent as possible, while frying it up on the day ensures the skin is crisp to perfection! Reducing the cider broth to a delicate jus works wonders to bring all the rich and earthy flavours together. It takes a bit of planning to get started the day before, but each step is super easy and the end result is truly michelin star quality!
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
500ml good-quality cider
1l fresh chicken stock
1-1.5kg piece unscored boneless pork belly
1. Heat the oven to 160C. Place onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in an oven proof casserole. Cover with stock, cider and bring to the boil. Slide the pork into the liquid making sure it’s totally submerged, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 3 hours.
2. Once cooked leave the pork to cool for a bit in the stock. Line a flat baking tray with cling film, carefully lift the pork, get rid of any bits of veg & herbs and place it skin down onto the tray. Cover with another flat tray or dish, weigh it down with something heavy place in the fridge overnight. This step is really important to ensure the pork’s skin is perfectly clean, flat – ready to be trimmed and crisped up the next day. Strain the cooking liquid into a jug cover and place in the fridge to chill.
(on the day)
3. Pour the braising juices (now jelly) into a saucepan and reduce down by two-thirds until thicker and syrupy.
4. Place pork on a clean board, skin-side upwards. Get a sharp knife and trim off any uneven edges so that you have a neat sheet of meat and cut into equal pieces. Heat oil in a large frying pan and reduce to medium heat. Sizzle the pork skin side down for 5 mins until the skin is perfectly crispy and flip it over for another couple of minutes until warm and browned all over.
Serve with cauliflower mash, mustard cabbage or any other earthy/wintery sides and drizzle the jus next to the pork on the plate. I also like to sprinkle a few bits of fried chorizo over it for extra texture!
Definitely give this dish a go for your next dinner party, pork belly is a very affordable cut of meat too, so no need to spend a fortune to impress!
Crispy duck is a legendary chinese classic. While the traditional way to prepare Chinese crispy duck takes forever, it’s certainly not the only way to achieve a delicious Peking style crispy duck at home. Here is a dead easy recipe to prepare the best peking style crispy duck within a couple of hours – so easy in fact that I decided to add the extra challenge of making my own pancakes…
1 whole duck 1.5 – 2kg, rinsed and dried well
3-4 tbsp salt
1-2 tbsp Chinese Five Spice
4 cm piece of ginger
3-4 spring onions
2 red chilis
275g plain flour
250ml water, just boiled
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Extra flour for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. To prepare the duck, rub it inside and out with a lot of salt and then just all over with five spice. Grate some fresh ginger to rub the cavity and place more five spice and the leftover ginger into the duck’s cavity to flavour.
2. Place duck in a tray and roast in the hot oven for 1-1½ hours, or until cooked through. Spoon regularly the excess fat over the skin to baste.
3. If you decide to make your own pancakes – now is the time start making your dough. In a large bowl, pour all of the flour and gradually add in the hot water, mixing constantly. Place the dough onto a dusted work surface and knead it for 5-10 minutes and leave it to rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.
4. Finely slice the cucumber, spring onion and chili and place on a tray.
5. Back to your dough. Dust a bit of flour over your work surface, stretch and knead the dough for another 5 minutes or until smooth. Roll it into a long sausage, and chop it into 18 equal pieces. Roll each portion back into a small ball.
6. Check your bird – if the skin isn’t quite crispy enough, turn the temperature up to 220°C. Pour the excess duck fat out of the tray and spoon a little over the duck skin to baste it one last time. Place into the hot oven for 10-20 minutes or until the skin is really crispy.
7. Back to your pancakes – the traditional method is to make two pancakes at a time. Take two of the balls, dip one side of one ball into sesame oil and place on top of the other ball. With a rolling pin, roll the 2 pancakes simultaneously into a 15 cm disk. Place the double pancake into a frying pan over gentle heat for a few minutes until dry and cooked. Allow to cool, and peel the two pancakes apart. If you’re struggling with the traditional method, just do one at a time!
8. Remove duck from the oven and leave to cool and rest for 5-10 minutes. Shred the meat off the bones using a fork or your fingers, place on a serving tray with the crispy skin. Serve the meat with warm pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and plum sauce. Et voila!
If making your own pancakes is a bit too much for you, skip steps 3, 5 & 7, buy pre-made ones and reheat in a steamer or microwave! As a gluten-free variant, make gluten free savoury pancakes with gluten-free flour, eggs, water, milk and butter!
This tasty and healthy dish was inspired by my recent trip to Bali. Peanut sauce is one of the most popular local speciality, served with anything ranging from meats to vegetables. Chicken sate (or satay) is a wonderful alternative to a classic chicken kebab and also the perfect exotic addition to your next barbecue session!
Ingredients: Serves 4
3 garlic cloves
25g root ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp each ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)
2 lime leaves , thinly sliced (optional)
500g chicken fillet, finely sliced
Wooden skewers, soaked in boiling water
2 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
200g peanuts, unsalted & dry roasted
3 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
3 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml hot water
1. Peel & finely chop shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies. Measure spices and place into a separate bowl.
2. Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies for 1-2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water to help soften, stir in the dry spices and fry for a minute.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, let the mixture cool down, then blend to a paste and add the tamarind paste and shredded lime leaves if using. Season with salt.
4. Place chicken strips in a bowl, pour marinade over it, combine well and thread 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.
5. To prepare the peanut sauce heat the oil in a saucepan add chillies, garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add peanuts and roast for another minute.
6. Place the mixture in a food processor; add salt, sugar, hot water and process again to make a thick sauce. Add fish sauce to taste.
7. Grill on the barbecue or griddle pan for 8-10 mins or until slightly charred on both sides and cooked inside.
Serve with peanut sauce, pita bread and a fresh cucumber salad for a light summer lunch or alternatively garnish with fried shallots and serve with a side of steamed rice or Nasi Goreng for a more authentic Indonesian meal.
Fancy cooking something French and really special? Try this iconic French dish of beef, stewed with lovely vegetables and herbs in wine which are then strained off, reduced and thickened to create a densely flavoured, smooth and silky sauce. Yes, if you’re feeling lazy, you could technically skip the sauce straining steps, but then it would just end up being a lovely stew, not a true boeuf Bourguignon! I personally think the extra step makes all the difference!
Ingredients (4 people)
200g bacon, solid chunk cut into lardons
800g braising steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp flour
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
12 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 cups red wine (ideally Bordeaux)
2-3 cups beef stock (enough to cover)
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, mashed
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
200g mushroom, quartered
50g unsalted butter
salt & fresh ground pepper
Potatoes, roasted or mashed (to serve)
Crusty bread (to serve)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan, sauté the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned and set aside on a plate.
2. Coat the pieces of beef in flour, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides in the bacon fat and olive oil. Set aside with the bacon. Again, in the same oil/fat, sauté the shallots, garlic and the carrot until softened. Set aside with the meat.
3. Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, pour it into an oven-proof casserole along with the meat, lardons, shallots, garlic, carrots and add enough stock to almost cover the mix. Stir in the tomato paste and add the parsley, sage and half the thyme. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove, cover and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 120 degrees and simmer slowly for 3 hours to 4 hours, or until a fork pierces the meat easily.
4. In the meantime, start preparing the mushrooms. Heat a spoonful of butter and a spoonful of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. As soon as the foam begins, add the mushrooms and a sprig of thyme, season with salt and pepper, toss and sauté for about five minutes until brown and set aside until ready to use. You may also want to start preparing the side of potato at this stage.
5. When the stew meat is tender, remove all solids from the sauce by draining through a sieve set over a saucepan. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole, discarding the bits of carrot, shallots and herbs which remain in the sieve.
6. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two. You should be left with about 2-3 cups of rich, dark sauce, thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thin, stir in a spoonful of flour and boil it down to reduce to the right thickness. If it’s too thick, add a bit of stock.Taste for seasoning before serving.
7. Pour the sauce over the side and garnish with fresh parsley to serve.
If serving later, simply allow the casserole to cool before placing it in the refrigerator. Place over medium heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally stirring the meat with the sauce.
The first time I had Pavlova, or even heard of it as a matter of fact, was 3 years ago as I was celebrating my first Australian Christmas. And I have to say, good on ya Aussies! It may be dead simple, but it’s bloody tasty!
Ingredients: (serves 6)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cornstach
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup thickened cream
3-4 kiwis, peeled and sliced
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
100g fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 small bunch of fresh mint (to serve)
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Whisk the egg-whites with cream of tartar in a large bowl using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until fully dissolved and the mixture looks thick and glossy. Finish the last spoon of sugar with the cornstarch. Fold in the vanilla extract.
2. Draw one large 24cm or 6 small circles on a sheet of baking paper and place it on a baking tray. Spoon meringue onto the circle on the baking paper and shape it into a circle, using the pencil mark as a guide.
3. Reduce oven to 100°C and bake for 90 minutes or until dry and crisp. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let the pavlova cool completely to avoid it to sink during cooling. In the meantime, whip the cream until thick and rich.
4. Slide pavlova onto a serving plate, cover with cream, top with sliced fruit and a sprig of mint. Serve.
I like to make little individual pavlovas instead of a large one because it tends to be a bit crispier and also looks really elegant on the plates. You can prepare the meringue base a couple days ahead and store it in an airtight container and put it together in 5 minutes just before serving!
This Donna Hay inspired pudding looks absolutely gorgeous, yet it’s so easy to make you will really struggle to mess it up! ;0) The only trick is to start on the jelly early to give it enough time to set.
Ingredients: (4 serves)
1 raspberry jelly sachet
100g fresh raspberries
4 macarons (store bought)
1 cup (250ml) thickened cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
Coconut flakes to serve (optional)
1. Make the raspberry jelly according to the packet’s instructions. Arrange 4-5 raspberries in the bottom of each of the 4 serving glasses and pour over the raspberry jelly. Place in the fridge to set for at least 4-5 hours.
2. To assemble, place a macaron in each glass on the jelly. Whisk the thickened cream with the sugar and vanilla until it holds peaks and layer over the macaron. Top up with a couple of fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of coconut flakes. You’re done!
Ice-cream hidden in a crispy choux pastry ball, covered in chocolate sauce. Can you think of anything better, seriously?
25g unsalted butter
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup flour
1 pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1.Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Bring butter, water and 1 pinch of salt to boil, stirring well until the butter is melted.
2. Pour the flour all at once in the butter mixture and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined and until it forms a ball. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
3. Whisk in the eggs, but one at a time until well combined.
4. Cover a large tray with baking paper. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag and pipe the profiteroles onto the baking tray. If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a ziplock bag and cut off the corner.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden. Try not to open the oven until it’s cooked or your pastry may run rise as desired.
6. Remove from oven and turn the oven off. Using a skewer or a small knife, prick each profiterole once and return the to the oven for 15 minutes to dry out.
7. To prepare the sauce, break the chocolate into rough pieces and melt it in a pan. Pour the cream in and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and fully combined. Remove from the heat, add a pinch of salt, a splash of cognac if you wish and mix well.
8. To assemble the profiteroles, halve each choux horizontally, fill with a ball of ice-cream. Place 3 on each plate, over some whipped cream and drizzle generously with chocolate sauce.
The same choux pastry recipe can be used for eclairs.
I decided to start making my own Scotch eggs after witnessing my boyfriend struggling to satisfy his odd British craving in Sydney. Since I hate the idea of deep-frying anything, I also tweaked the classic recipe for a healthier version using only just a touch of oil spray and a hot oven!
Ingredients: makes 10 eggs
1/2 onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped
3 tbsp worcester sauce
500g Pork mince
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Plain flour, to dust
Breadcrumbs, to coat
2 eggs, lightly beaten to coat
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place 10 eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water to cool completely, peel and dust with a bit of flour so that the surface is nice and dry.
2. In the meantime, combine the onion, garlic, chilli, herbs, worcester sauce and mince. Season with salt & pepper, mixe well and divide the mixture into 10 even portions.
3. To assemble to scotch eggs, mould half of one portion flat in the cup of your hand. Place a hard-boiled egg into it and shape the rest of the meat around to enclose. Roll it between your hands to smooth the surface. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
4. Roll each egg in the egg wash and breadcrumbs and set aside. Repeat with the other eggs.
5. When you have assembled all of the scotch eggs, place them onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Spray with oil and bake on high heat for 20 minutes. Spray again lightly, change the oven setting and grill for another 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Scotch eggs are great sliced over a green salad for a light dinner, or simply packed for a picnic or a lunch box! Mini scotch eggs using quail eggs can also make a great party food option!
This elegant Asian inspired dish will be a hit served as a snack or as a starter. The beautiful contrast between the crispy sweet potato and the sharp and creamy wasabi Mayo will take you by surprise and make you come back for more! Nom, nom, nom!
Ingredients: (2 as a starter)
1 large sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp sesame or walnut oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp wasabi
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice the sweet potato into very thin slices, using a vegetable peeler. Soak in salted water for 20-30 minutes.
2. Prepare the wasabi mayonnaise dip by whisking the mayonnaise in the wasabi cream and season with cracked pepper.
3. Drain and pat dry the sweet potato slices with paper towel and coat with sesame or walnut oil and season with salt & pepper. Transfer and spread seasoned potato slices on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 minutes. Using a large spatula, turn, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake for another 10 minutes until crisp.
Serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds!
The good news is that these little tasty treats are also much healthier than traditional crisps!
It’s also the perfect starter, before a sushi platter!
Everyone loves sushi nowadays, but very few know how to prepare restaurant quality sushi at home, which is a shame given how crowded and expensive Japanese restaurants can be! Now, the good news is that making sushi at home is actually very easy and I can guarantee you will love it and it will become your favourite dish for dinner parties! The only difficult part is finding high quality sea food and sushi rice, so that it has the correct amount of starch needed to make the rice glossy and sticky, not mushy or dry. You can find this style of rice at most well-stocked grocery stores or Asian markets and sashimi fish from a good fishmonger.
Ingredients: (12-16 pieces)
200g fresh sashimi fish, such as salmon and/or tuna
2 cups sushi rice (also called japonica rice)
1/4 cup Japanese rice vinegar + extra to moisten your hands
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1. Soak the rice for 15 minutes in cold water and rinse several times until the final change of water runs almost clear. Steam the rinsed rice following the package’s directions.
2. Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan over medium heat until fully dissolved, but without boiling the mixture. Take off the heat and let it cool.
3. When the rice has finished cooking, transfer it to a wooden bowl or at least non-metallic, as metal can react with vinegar and ruin flavours. Using a plastic or wooden spoon, cool down the rice by gently spreading it out and folding in the vinegar mixture gradually until evenly sticky and shiny.
4. To shape the sushi rice, dampen fingers and hands with a small amount of rice vinegar to make it non stick. Pick up about 2 to 3 tsp. rice in one hand and shape into a rectangle with rounded corners. Repeat the process until you’ve got enough sushi pieces. Dip your forefinger into wasabi and spread a small amount onto the rice.
5. Slice the fish into thin slices. Aim for an opposite angle to the veins and using a long sharp knife, cut straight across the width of the block at a 45 degrees angle, in one long stroke. Repeat with the rest of the fish.
6. To assemble the nigiri, pick up a slice of fish, place it on top of the sushi rice base in the palm of your hand. Press the sides and top to place fish firmly onto rice. Continue with the rest of the fish.
Place on a plate and serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.
Make sure you give it a fair go. While step 5 and 6 may be a bit tricky at first, you’ll feel much more confident by your second or third piece and the result will be really rewarding!
If you found this one easy and feel up for more, why not take a look at my California Roll instructions to make it a full sushi mix platter!